Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Book of Revelation.....AN OVERVIEW

The Book of Revelation.....AN OVERVIEW

Revelation is not a horror story as many believe. To the Christian there are wonderful promises of a fantastic future. It is only a horror for those who have decided for all of eternity to refuse the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers to whosoever will. In many of the books, it is indefinite who says some of the things, but in Revelation it is Jesus speaking and He is the Truth. Jesus not only knows the end from the beginning, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. There is nothing before Him and nothing after Him.

Revelation is current, happening now, and in the very near future. 

Every believer should be studying it and paying close attention to God's Plan outlined in this book. 

God is the author of the entire bible, every author or speaker saves what is best and most important for last. God has done just that. Revelation is a book of love, it is the story of just how far Almighty God will go to save and redeem His fallen and failing creation. We are the last generation and God clearly intended this generation to understand the truth of Revelation more fully than previous generations.

The book of Revelation is our blessed hope that's Titus 2:13 where Paul says, "We are to be looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." God did not give us the book of Revelation to intimidate or scare us, but to show us that there is a blessed hope at the end of that book. And that's the coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth.

The title "Revelation" in Greek is the word "apocalypse" or "apocalyptic". "Revelation" means the unveiling of Divine mysteries. Christ is both the Mystery and the Revealer of the mystery. The Revealer is God the Son.

It is apocalyptic
It is prophetic
It is pastoral

The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature, but it is also a prophetic message that God sent to his people so that they might understand what the Lord is saying to them while including predictive elements.

However, we must not assume that a prophecy is all about prediction. Prophets were always speaking to their contemporaries; therefore, what they were saying was relevant to their situation and often in the light of what they were predicting for the future.

Revelation is not only apocalyptic and prophetic, but it is also a letter. It is an epistle, a pastoral letter written by the Apostle John to seven churches in Asia Minor. Unlike apocalyptic literature, this book is written by God for His servants to better understand what God is doing, and what He is going to do, and how they should respond in the light of all that God is doing.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet just as A and Z are the first and last letters of the English alphabet. While these letters have been interpreted in many different ways God Himself interprets them for us already in the Old Testament in Isaiah 44:6: I am the First, and I am the Last, and beside Me there is no God. The words I AMused by God actually is the meaning of God's Name which is usually rendered into English as "Jehovah", or "Jahweh". Actually I AM only provides the consonants for Jehovah, we dont know what the original vowels were since they were never written. God, having given His Name as I AM (when translated into English) identifies himself as the uncreated One who is His own cause and Reason for Being. When Jesus, during His ministry claims to be I AM (as in John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, before Abraham was, I AM) He is using God's name and claiming to be God Himself. Since the Jewish leaders did not believe in Him they considered this blasphemy. Since there is no question that John wrote the book, the divine claim at this point in the opening of the book makes it clear that Christ is behind the book of Revelation.

WHEN? St. John was exiled to the Island of Patmos in 95 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Domitian. On one Sunday during his exile on Patmos (1:9-10) the Lord gave John these final Apocalyptic Revelations. In September of 96 he returned to Ephesus. Due to his great age, he attended church carried on a litter. As the people would flock around him he would greet them with the words, Little children, love one another.

TO WHOM: (1:4) The Seven Churches in Asia and as all canonical writings, to all Christians.

PURPOSE: A book of prophecy of global proportions. It reminds believers that the present life, world, problems and sufferings are only temporary. God will keep His promises and all believers shall spend eternity in a new heaven and new earth. The present life which seems like man's whole existence to those who dont know better shall be but a moment of the past.

"Behold" occurs 27 times in the book and serves to draw our attention to an especially important point.

Approaches to reading and studying Revelation

The Preterist Approach. The Book of Revelation is all about what was happening in the first century as the church was dealing with the enormous problems posed by the Roman empire.

The Historicist Approach. The Book of Revelation is a forecast of the whole of human history with particular relevance to what is going to happen in the Western world at the end of the age. It is the most popular approach in the West.

The Futurist Approach. Apart from chapters 2 and 3, the Book of Revelation is all about the end of the world. It is only relevant to the people who will be living when the world comes to an end.

The Idealist Approach. This is not about actual events that took place. It is dramatic, imaginative, symbolic writing about the principles whereby God operates in the world today.

The Historical Context for the Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation was written toward the end of the first century when the emperor Domitian began a period of severe persecution of the church. Toward the end of the century, the Christian church was not largely populated and living under difficult circumstances. Under the intense persecution, knowing that many will be tortured and die, this group of believers knows that Jesus will come again. It is their hope.

As time passes, the hope of his return is beginning to wane. Opposition is building up. This is a beleaguered church where they need a reminder about what is going on in the world. Therefore, this pastoral letter was written to this first century church to remind them that:

All history is under God's control. That is the unmistakable emphasis of the Book of Revelation.

You live in an evil world. This was nothing new but it was a good reminder that as people living in a fallen world, you would be persecuted. It also offered small comfort that if you laid down your life for Christ, you would know peace because He laid down His life for you.

Christ is central to all God's plans. Christ will return, but right now He is in the place of all authority, and He is the focal point of the grand cosmic purposes of God.

Evil will finally be judged. It will not be allowed to continue to run rampant in this world. The time will come when God will have a confrontation with evil and He will win.

Heaven is the ultimate reality.

Stand firm. Be faithful. Endure to the end. God is on your side.

That is a message for the first century church that is relevant for all ages. We know who wins. It is all about what is going on in the world, and that God is working out His purposes.

Breaking Down the Book of Revelation

In the introduction to this letter, the Book of Revelation is described as a prophecy. A prophet's job was to listen to the voice of God and then stand before the people with "Thus saith the Lord".

The Prologue (vs. 1-4)

This Revelation of Jesus Christ is an unveiling of Jesus through an angel, which is a normal occurrence in apocalyptic literature. The angel gives the message of the revelation to John; John then gives the revelation to the servants of God. Therefore, the unveiling of Jesus that originated with the Father is for the benefit of those that are the servants of the Lord Jesus.

This Revelation deals with issues that must soon take place. In the Old Testament, prophets often talked about the latter days or the end times. In those days, God was going to build his kingdom. When Jesus came, He announced that the kingdom was at hand, and He started building His kingdom. Therefore, the last days started with the birth of Jesus, and we have been living in the last days ever since as God has been building his kingdom.

This Revelation is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. God is speaking from His heart and articulating to His servants what they need to know about Him. The people to whom it was initially written were afraid of what lay ahead of them, and they needed a word from God. They needed to hear that God was still in touch with them and still involved in their lives. They also needed to hear from Jesus--the one they loved. It is a testimony from Jesus himself to his dearly beloved disciples.

This Revelation contains a special blessing for specific people.

Those who read this prophecy will be blessed.
Those who hear the prophecy will be blessed.
Those who take it to heart will be blessed.

The Salutation (vs. 4-8)

This is a reminder that the Book of Revelation is an epistle--a letter from John to the servants of Christ in the seven churches of Asia Minor.

Grace and peace was sent to these beleaguered saints in their struggling little churches about to be persecuted. Grace and peace will come from God the Father and be mediated by the Holy Spirit. It also comes from Jesus Christ. The believers need to remember that their God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus is called a faithful witness, a reference to his incarnation. He is also called the firstborn from the dead, referring to His resurrection. Finally, He is referred to as the ruler of the kings of the earth, reminding us that He is a king. He is a prophet, priest, and king.

God has loved us and freed us so that He can make us a kingdom of priests. The church is His kingdom on earth made up of redeemed men and women who know what it is to have immediate access to the Father through the Son, can worship Him, and can stand on behalf of other men and women and bring them to the Father.

The day is coming when Christ will return. At His glorious return, every eye will see him, and those who have embraced Him will know what it is to live at peace for all eternity. God will be seen by all to be good, righteous, and just.

The Instruction (vs. 9-11)

John has been exiled to Patmos. To the people to whom he had been ministering, he is their brother as well as a companion in his suffering. Suffering is part of the kingdom, requiring a call for patient endurance. Christians often live in difficult situations, but they do it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Vision (vs. 12-20)

John sees the risen, majestic, glorified, triumphant Jesus who holds in his hands the keys of death and Hades. What a word of encouragement this was to the churches who were worried about exactly these two things. Jesus defeated death and is alive for evermore.

When John sees this vision, he is totally overwhelmed and falls on his face before the Lord. What we discover in the Book of Revelation is that the heavenly beings are worshipping; over and over again, it is all about the awesomeness of God. Therefore, the proper posture is flat on our faces before God. There is a place for celebration, but it only belongs after we have been overwhelmed with God's magnificence and have prostrated ourselves humbly before him.

How can you be afraid of a book like that?

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